Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the withdrawal of Russian troops cut off power and water to millions of people in eastern Ukraine in revenge for Kiev’s lightning-fast counteroffensive.
Ukraine accused Kremlin forces of deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions after being pushed into abandoning its strategically important fortress in Izium over the weekend.
It comes after Ukraine’s military reportedly retook more than 1,160 square miles of territory since the start of its Blitz counter-offensive in late August.
Ukrainian officials said targets of the retaliatory attacks included water facilities and a thermal power plant in Kharkiv, which caused fires and widespread power outages.
Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekov said Russian attacks on critical civilian sites plunged much of Ukraine’s second-largest city into darkness Sunday night and deprived its residents of running water, but power has since been partially restored.
“You are heroes!!!” Terekhov wrote on Telegram early in the morning, referring to these recovery services. “Thanks to everyone who did everything on this most difficult night for Kharkiv to normalize life in the city as soon as possible.”
The governor of nearby Sumy region said more than 130 settlements were without power.
In a fiery social media post on Sunday, Zelenskyy accused Russia of committing “acts of terrorism” by directing “deliberate and cynical rocket attacks” on civilian infrastructure.
A defiant Zelensky went on to say that given the choice between being in their country without gas, light, water and food or without Russian occupiers, Ukrainians would always choose the latter.
“Didn’t you really understand anything, didn’t you understand who we are?” the President added. “Cold, hunger, darkness and thirst – to us they are not as frightening and deadly as your ‘friendship and brotherhood’.”
At the end he exclaimed, “We’ll be with gas, light, water and food… and WITHOUT you!”
The alleged attacks on eastern Ukraine’s power grid come after Kiev’s forces reportedly tripled their territorial gains in just over 48 hours, prompting Russian troops to withdraw from previously held positions in the east.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Monday that its forces liberated more than 20 settlements over the past day and pushed back Russian forces to the northeastern border.
“In some areas of the front, our defenders reached the state border with the Russian Federation,” said Oleh Syniehubov, the governor of the northeastern Kharkiv region.
Over the weekend, Russia’s Defense Ministry said troops were withdrawing from two areas in that region to “regroup” in the eastern region of Donetsk.
After months without movement on the battlefield, Kiev’s sudden momentum has boosted Ukrainian morale and provoked outrage in Russia — and even some rare public criticism of President Vladimir Putin’s war.
Russian military bloggers and patriotic commentators have criticized the Kremlin for failing to mobilize more forces and crack down on Ukraine.
On Saturday, the same day Russian forces reportedly withdrew from the key logistics hub of Izium, Putin attended the opening of a new Ferris wheel in Moscow.
Russia has consistently stopped calling its invasion of Ukraine a war and instead used the description “military special operations.” Instead of a mass mobilization that could spur civil discontent and protests, it has relied on a limited contingent of volunteers.
Ramzan Kadyrov, the Moscow-backed leader of Russia’s Chechnya region, has publicly criticized the Russian Defense Ministry for “mistakes” in enabling Ukraine’s attack.
More notably, such criticism leaked onto Russian state-controlled television.
“People who convinced President Putin that the operation will be quick and effective… these people really built us all up,” Boris Nadezhdin, a former MP, said on a talk show on NTV television. “We are now at the point where we need to understand that defeating Ukraine with these resources and methods of colonial warfare is absolutely impossible.”
With postal wires
https://nypost.com/2022/09/12/retreating-russian-troops-target-ukraines-power-grid/ Retreating Russian troops target Ukraine’s power grid